Let’s talk about another form of animal rights advocacy in which I see other dedicated activists participating. It is an important advocacy that I admire, but an advocacy that is just not in my wheelhouse – YET! It is an armchair advocacy that can be highly effective. At the very least, it lets people know that we are here to stay, that we are not lurking in corners eating granola and murky, sludgy plant stews. We are not spending all of our time on Facebook and other social media creating memes about animal cruelty and animal loving alike, while bashing other vegans for being “veganish” because they have a view that differs from ours. We believe implicitly in what we do and many of us are prepared to march to the front lines of companies, governmental agencies, associations and mainstream media to ask the tough questions and respectfully demand changes – for our friends, the animals!!!
So, you guessed it! The advocacy of which I speak is that of accountability. Every time we see a wrong, an injustice to animals we need to first ask the perpetrators for clarification, then, if required boycott said perpetrators. We write to them, we inform them that we are indeed boycotting and explain why we are doing so. We then ask them to put a stop to their continued and ongoing practices which harm other species.
This is a pretty tall order-the “every time we see a wrong” bit!!!! And this is why I have not yet delved much into this practice. At the moment, it is a time issue for me. This is not a justification for my lack of e-mail and letter writing, but merely the truth. It is something that I am working to change. But, in the meantime, I have met wonderful passionate people who fill the void and do advocate in this manner.
One such person is Susan Griffiths who, like me, is new to veganism. The newness of living this truth is in no way reflective of her passion, her commitment and her honesty in her endeavors. She conducts herself as if she has been at this for years. For this reason I extend to her my gratitude and respect.
I asked Susan if she would be willing to share her perspective on the subject of holding people, agencies and organizations accountable. She has graciously agreed to do so! So, as I always say, without further ado……Here is Susan, answering the question,
Why is it important for animal activists to send letters and emails to decision makers?
“People and companies behave differently when they know they are being observed. It gets their attention. Sending an email or a letter, to a particular person, in a specific office, does this.
The person to whom we direct our queries requests and comments needs to be the right one of course, the one with whom the buck stops, at least for that moment. The questions we ask must be clear and answerable. The request or demand must be reasonable, explicit and ‘doable’. This delivers the card of accountability to our target. From now on, any response or decision they take (tacit included) needs to stand up to public scrutiny – and the recipient of the communication will know this. Now we most certainly have their attention!
Communicating directly with companies, governmental agencies, associations and the like is an important advocacy for animal activists. By so doing we deliver a message, not just to the specific target and the public to whom they are accountable, but also to those who are the decision makers, the bosses as it were. It gives us the opportunity to inform and to persuade. Inch by inch….. The thin edge of the wedge and all that … making a difference….!
Decision makers need vision and reassurance. Our communications will be ‘challenging’ to the recipient. Provided the request or demand is reasonable and doable, then it is possible to persuade this person to act, to move, to make that decision or to present it to someone who has the authority to do so. Presumably they will list the benefits of making this decision, as well as take note of the lost opportunity if they do not make changes. They may research and outline which other organizations are moving in this direction and whether or not they would make good allies or partners.
Our personal emails or letters are not sent in a vacuum. This is an essential strategy that can help end the animal holocaust. There are others like you and like me. Every single email and letter, so sent, helps persuade and mobilize allies, of whom we have great need. To defend against speciesism and to secure the equal rights and liberation of all animals, we face an enormous front. Let’s use our collective voice to defend the voiceless – your email or that letter you post, matters – it matters a lot.” _____Susan Griffiths
Allow me to add a caveat. Phone calls, e-mails and letters of congratulation sent to companies and the like who look for and implement positive change are also life affirming and important to our cause. Here is a for instance. Nordic Choice Hotels in Scandinavia is in the trials phase of removing from their menu bacon, sausage and some other animal based products They are making this move in light of the recent WHO report which states that highly processed animal products are “carcinogenic to humans”. Yes, the revised hotel menu is a trial and yes they are not talking about the rights of animals, and yes, veganism is the goal, but they are making changes, changes which have the potential to open hearts and minds. Exposure is key to raising awareness.
Annie’s Vegan View
These efforts, though varying and different, merge together and we become a united voice as we stand in alliance with and for the animals.
May all beings be happy and free.